Looking back, it is hard to even think that a mere 25 years ago, a handful of liberal anchormen and a dozen or so newspaper columnists pretty much controlled how the nation saw or read the national news. Walter Cronkite, John Chancellor, Harry Reasoner and the others, all good Americans to be sure but liberal to the core, talked to us every night and gave us the news that they had selected to be the news. They were pretty authoritative, and had the power to be.
Cronkite even used to close his broadcasts by intoning, “and that’s the way it is, today” followed by that day’s date. They insisted that they were just giving us news and that they were impartial, and they did sound dispassionate, but reality was otherwise. By choosing what was news, what they prioritized, the tone they used and whom to interview, the old set of journalists were able to bias the news. Comment, context and background in the transmission of news massage the message. It wasn’t just news we were getting. When Cronkite turned against the Vietnam War the gig was up, and LBJ knew it, saying famously, “If I’ve lost Cronkite I’ve lost the nation.” The nation really did pay attention to what Uncle Walter said.Those were my times. I used to be in the news business back when I was young. Before the internet and the resurgence of AM radio there was only one source for news in America. It was the way it was and I have no complaints. If there was bias, it got there naturally as media was sceptical of the ruling class in this country and it showed in their early bias. They didn't really pull all that many punches on either party's foibles and if they gaffed off Ted Kennedy's driving habits they also gave a miss on telling us all about Eisenhower's driving habits in England during the war.
Nowadays I watch as people endlessly debate the perception of liberal bias in the main stream media and Fox news and I have to say that I don't see a liberal bias in either.*
*Stopped watching years ago.